By JOSH GERSTEIN
Citing the agency’s own errors in the handling of a request for emails of four former aides to Hillary Clinton, the State Department is asking a federal judge to extend the deadline to complete processing of the records by more than two years.
Justice Department lawyers notified U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras on Wednesday that State will be unable to meet the court-ordered deadline of July 21 in the lawsuit the conservative group Citizens United brought earlier this year seeking emails ex-State Department officials Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, Melanne Verveer and Michael Fuchs exchanged with individuals at the Clinton Foundation or a firm with ties to the Clintons, Teneo Consulting.
The government lawyers asked Contreras to give State an additional 27 months— until October 2018—to finish work on the request, processing documents at a rate of about 500 pages a month.
State FOIA official Eric Stein said the agency thought in March that searches turned up about 6,000 documents potentially responsive to the request and that fewer than half of those were likely to be ultimately responsive after duplicates were culled out.
However, in recent months, “the Department discovered errors in the manner in which the searches had been conducted in order to capture documents potentially responsive to Plaintiff’s requests,” Stein told the judge in a written declaration. One office he did not further identify searched only the ‘from’ and ‘to’ fields of messages, meaning that forwarded messages involving the individuals identified by Citizens United might not have been captured.
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